Bound by respect

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Territorial
integrity cited

The term “the document speaks for itself” debunks allegations of a sellout based on a copy of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) memorandum of understanding (MoU) that underlined mutual respect between the People’s Republic of China (PROC) and the Philippines.

The pact was signed during the visit of PROC President Xi Jinping last week along with other agreements that resulted in the deepening of relations of the Philippines and the PROC to a strategic partnership.

The deal committed the country’s participation in the Chinese initiative in reviving the ancient Silk Road trade routes

A copy of the document obtained by ABS-CBN News disclosed it sought stronger infrastructure and trade cooperation between both countries while stressing “mutual respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty.”

The BRI MoU committed the country’s participation in the Chinese initiative in reviving the ancient Silk Road trade route as a means of spurring economic relations among China and its neighbors in Asia and Europe.

Under the BRI deal, PROC offers to finance infrastructure and programs in the country, particularly in the sectors of transportation, telecommunications and energy.
In turn, the Philippines will be PROC’s bridge to Southeast Asian nations that will participate in the program.

The document stated “the most sustainable growth of a country should not be at the expense of another and that national progress is not a zero-sum game.”

Shared growth
“The Participants shall work together, within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, with the strictest respect for national laws, rules, regulations and policies, so as to realize sustainable growth and development through the Belt and Road Initiative and translate economic complementarities and people-to-people exchanges into advantages for practical cooperation and the sound sustainable development of all countries involved,” the document stated.

The most sustainable growth of a country should not be at the expense of another.

The guiding principles specified in the agreement are “mutual respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty and complete transparency in their common endeavors.”

It also stressed on maximizing “existing bilateral, regional and multilateral mechanisms.”

The Silk Road Economic Belt will link PROC, Central Asia, Russia and Europe, mainly the Baltic countries. PROC will also be connected to the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea through Central Asia and West Asia. It will also be connected to Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Indian Ocean.

For financial cooperation, the pact said the use of local currencies will be expanded while the Philippines and China will engage in regular dialogue for economic development and cultural cooperation.

However, the MoU “does not create legally binding obligations” and is merely an “expression of their common aspiration to cooperate on the Belt and Road Initiative for their mutual benefit.”

Silk Route dev’t zone
It described the initiative as China’s effort to “take its remarkable economic progress and development even further by offering to assist in the development of other countries to help build stronger economies and, therefore, more and richer markets for commercial and culture exchanges along the ancient Silk Route.”

The MoU also cited “the most sustainable growth of a country should not be at the expense of another and that national progress is not zero-sum game.”

The pact was among 29 deals signed between the Philippines and China during Xi’s visit.

Benefits measured
Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez said the agreement hopefully will translate into more purchase orders and more investments from China.

PROC offers to finance infrastructure and programs in the country, particularly in the sectors of transportation, telecommunications and energy.

“Every time the two leaders meet, there is always good news coming out,” Lopez added.

He said opportunities for trade between the Philippines and China “can be so much greater.”

“We are big exporters of pineapple, mango, coconut and banana to China, and we are working on processed agriculture products, snack products, like dried mango. And we want to promote these kinds of product,” he said.

“The Philippines is in an economic breakout, so (there are) lots of opportunities now for the Philippines. We encourage all the Chinese businessmen and investors to come to the Philippines,” he stressed.

Lopez said “the BRI program is definitely benefiting the Philippines” as it opens up more opportunities for cooperation.

“We see a lot of good things and programs from China that definitely are benefiting the Philippines,” he added.

MoU “does not create legally binding obligations.”

Recently, Speaker Gloria Arroyo also hailed PROC’s initiative as a way of spreading benefits of economic growth to the rest of the world.

“China’s Belt and Road initiative is well known throughout the world. It comes at a time when China has emerged from four decades of breathtaking growth to become today the world’s second largest economy,” Arroyo said.

She added the BRI “comes as China now embarks on President Xi Jinping’s vision to totally modernize and propel itself in the next decade or so when China will surely become the world’s top economy.”

The former Chief Executive also noted days after the United States took steps towards a trade war, Xi stressed the need for greater cooperation and commitment to building an open economy.

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